Press Conference Divides Community Leaders
What was intended to be a press conference about a report on African Americans and community policing turned racially divisive as it morphed into a forum of heavy criticism of the Albany County District Attorney.
The Center for Law and Justice in Albany held the press conference Thursday to promote a report card on Albany Police Chief Steven Krokoff's performance over the past three years as head of the APD, but a reporter's query concerning the recent drug arrest of deputy Albany County Executive Christine Quinn tipped the mood in a very different direction. Times Union court reporter Robert Gavin:
Gavin says there were more questions; the situation became darker and darker, as Albany NAACP President Bernard Bryan went on a rant. Gavin noted that Soares did not respond to requests for comment - but Pastor Charlie Muller decided to call the press together again Friday afternoon for a conference of his own.
Bernard Bryan's caustic comments caught reporter Gavin by surprise. Bryan responded to a request for comment by email, which in part says, "I did not intend any criticism of Pastor Charlie as he and his ministries are doing an excellent job of assisting communities of color in meeting their many challenges. I was lamenting the fact that an African American official has such poor relations with folks who are from the same cultural background as he, that he needs the intervention of someone from another race in order to connect with communities of color..." Mueller accuses Bryan of using bullying tactics.
Alice Green, the executive director of the Center for Law and Justice, says the turn of events at the press conference is not what was hoped for – she affirms that community policing is an important issue and hopes people will read the report and use the information in it to promote understanding.
Chief Krokoff and DA David Soares did not respond to requests for comment.